When life is challenging – even when one is faced with something life-threatening – it can be easy to give up hope. But Dave has a message for everyone: don’t give up hope!
Dave has survived a lot in his life. He’s lived with mental health challenges for more than two decades, got into drugs, and was in and out of hospital several times. A stint in the military as a medic had him travel across the country where he says he’s “seen it all.”
When he moved to Abbotsford, he began to turn his life around. He swore off drugs, came to faith, and turned to his art as a way to cope. But challenges followed him here too. His physical health deteriorated and last year, it became clear that he was going to need open heart surgery. At one point he was at risk of being homeless. But through Communitas’ Supported Independent Living (SIL) services, Dave found stable housing that included a dedicated art studio in the basement. His mental health worker, Micah, was a big part of that.
“I can’t say enough about Micah,” Dave says. “We have learned so much, as individuals, through each other. SIL really is a gift to the community.”
His open-heart surgery was successful and Dave says when he hears his “$124,000 carbon fibre valve” ticking away, he is filled with gratitude.
“I feel like I’m 30 again, it’s given me my life back,” he says.
Having that community is essential when you’re living with health challenges. Micah visited Dave while he was in the hospital and provided support when he got out. Dave says that Communitas has truly made a difference.
“I’ve had experience with different mental health providers but Communitas is different,” he says.
Today, Dave is thriving. He married his soulmate, Janet, and they’ve moved into a new basement suite with a supportive landlord. He graduated from SIL in June. He continues to create art and won an international award last December.
“I’m grateful for everything I have: my beautiful wife, my new heart valve, my new home, and a renewed life,” he says.
Vicky Manderson manages SIL services at Communitas. She and her team have seen an increased need in mental health services and they know the difference that a community can make.
“When we can walk alongside someone on their journey towards mental health and give meaningful, practical help, it makes all the difference in the world,” Vicky says. “If someone has hope, their mental health improves. Hope is a superpower!”
It is the through the gifts of generous donors that this support is possible. Donations to Communitas have enabled the organization to respond to people in crisis, quickly and effectively, even if they do not have a referral from a community mental health centre. Support from donors has helped Communitas expand activities and services that make a difference. For Dave, knowing that there is support in the community fills him with hope.
“I have hope for the future” Dave says. “If I can find hope, others can too.”